Author Archive | hortoris

Late to the New Years Party 2020

  • January is not a great time for a gardener to be slow of the mark but it is probably better then than in other months.  For my part I have been soaked and saturated by the heavy down pours so far this year that I have been late setting out my gardeners tips plans for the year.

Rhododendron buds

Before I launch onto my major project of the year ‘Trees I will have a quick recap on my January activity so far.

  • In line with my resolution to improve all round plant health I have cleaned up all the indoor plants, trimmed off old brown leaves, given orchid leaves  a wipe down to remove dust and moved as many plants as possible into better light. I also used some Christmas present garden tokens to stock up on granulated fertiliser and spread some epsom salts on the raspberry canes.
  • Wanting to grow several ‘golden’ flowers for autumn I have been researching Dahlia, Chrysanthemums and begonias to buy in the near future.
  • I have cleared up the greenhouse after the late chrysanthemum plants were taken out of them soil. I plan to grow in pots next year leaving the greenhouse beds for more salad crops.
  • I audited the seed stock and augmented it with new mixes of lettuce, mizuna and poppies.
  • I moved to a frost shelter and renovated some of the many ornamental and standard pots around the house.
  • Lastly I am looking despondently at scaffolding all around the house and impinging on the garden for a reroofing exercise that should start tomorrow.

An unusual shade of bract on a Christmas poinsettia, The traditional red variety lasted until september 2019 but my effort to put it in the dark for this year was thwarted and the compost found a new resident.

An old favorite in its 4th year we still get colour on the heart shaped display.

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Flowers Suitable for Art Painting

I am no botanic artist and I am too old to learn and train but I do appreciate a good source photograph to paint in oils.

This clematis bloom captured at an RHS trial gave me inspiration to get it painted.

Colours Contrast and Tone

  1. Seldom are white flowers exclusively white but a mix of many colours and shades. School boy physics explained that white light could be split by a prism into all the colours of the rainbow.
  2. The light source is full-on yet there are graduations of tone that stop short of full shadows.
  3. The overlaid petals and the veins seem lighter and brighter.
  4. The bottom leaves are dark blue-green which helps them to recede and provide much needed contrast.
  5. Aesthetically I like the pistels and the lime green colouring.

Composition

  1. The focal point is the flowers center. I could drop the intruding leaf from the left if I thought it conflicted with the prime focus but the round shape is pleasing.
  2. The picture takes the eye round in a series of circles and ellipses and keeps the eye within the frame.
  3. The colour scheme is simple and not too complex but the execution may be more problematic.
  4. The focal point may be a bit too central but is offset by the second flower. In any event the final painting can be skewed left or right if desired.

I will attempt a painting and ‘may’ even show the result later

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Herbs for a Vegetarian Christmas

Book Cover Our son is a staunch vegetarian and his Christmas present this year will have a herb theme. He has the space for many pots and some new raised beds as he develops his garden 200 miles south of our Yorkshire home. It is  bound to be warmer down there if not Mediterranean.

My selection of plants to grow will be governed by seeds I will give him to create a ‘saladery’ ( my word for a green leafy range of herb crops.) As a carnivore I can’t resist some Beef Tomatoes and Lambs lettuce on the menu.

Salad Seeds

  • Coriander for cut and come again leaves and ultimately seeds. I have bought a lemon coriander packet from Suttons said to be ideal to entice ladybirds.
  • Basil [Ocimum basilicum  ] should produce well and there are several varieties to chose from . Sweet basil, lemon basil and lettuce leaf basil are on the list.
  • I had not thought of eating Bergamot leaves ( Monarda didyama) but they are recommended in my herb book.
  • Chervil,  and chives are good old fashioned standbys.
  • Fennel and dill have similar tastes.
  • Lovage tastes a bit like cellery but beware of the diuretic effect.
  • Flat leaved and curly parsley ane a personal favourite
  • Sweet cicely roots can be boiled to bulk out a salad.

long tom herbs

Other Recommended Herb Garden Staples

  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Mint
  • Camomile
  • Garlic
  • Bay
  • Marjoram
  • Lavender
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Gardening Truisms and Quotes

Gardener at work (or he would be sat down)

Alys Fowler ‘Gardening is something you do not some thing you buy.’

Vita Sackville West ‘ Successful gardening is not necessarily a question of wealth but of love, taste and knowledge.’

Alan Coren ..’You and I be a-diggin’ and a-stretchin’ and a-sweatin’ as we work away with that most indispensable of gardening tools, the wallet.’

Elisabeth Bowen ‘Autumn arrives in early morning but spring at the close of a winters day.’

Chris Bayles of Rosemoor   ‘ A horticultural sweetshop.’

RHS on AGM  ‘ Some people in the trade are muddying the waters, because it is cheaper for them…’

Monty Don ‘It is the space between plants and objects that make a garden interesting’

Alan Titchmarsh ‘ In gardening circles Beth (Chatto) has become something of a legend in her own lifetime. It was she who turned peoples eye’s towards out-of-the-ordinary plants back in the 1960’s when she opened her Unusual Plant Nursery at Elmstead Market.’

Thomas Jefferson “Though an old man, I am but a young gardener.”

Janet Kilburn Phillips “There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.” –

Ogden Nash ‘My garden will never make me famous, I’m a horticultural ignoramus.’

May Sarton   ‘ Gardening gives you a sense of proportion about everything – except gardening’.

Hortoris ‘My garden is not as good as it will be next year’

 

links

funny quotes

https://gardenerstips.co.uk/blog/wp-admin/post.php?post=9096&action=edit

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First time Sunflower Success Diminishes

In 2008 a google search for sunflowers would have found gardeners tips in the top 3 results. Now it would be luck to be found in the top 3 million. We are number 115th for the more specific ‘sunflowers gardeners tips’ as Tips for Easy Sunflowers from 2015.

So why are the mighty fallen?

  • We have not kept up with search engine etiquette, metrics and optimisation techniques preferring to have our fun with with 2000+ somewhat random posts.
  • There are a great number of tipster sites and commercial businesses whose need for  traffic drives them to focus and stylise there offerings.
  • Google algorithms and analytics are far superior to those of 10 years ago.’
  • We were not mighty and do not claim mightyness yet but we hope to keep sowing, growing and gardening.

Sunflower Titan

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Disappointing but not Surprising Moss Problems

Yorkshire has suffered an exceptionally wet autumn culminating in disastrous floods at Fishlake and around the river Don. One plant that will thrive in these wet northerly conditions is our old friend Moss.  As this has been covered before I am just using this post to link you to other observations and tips about moss.

Gardeners Tips

Liverworts are a relative of moss as is the green lichen on theses trees.

Moss is a dense low growing mat of greenery that affects badly drained lawns. It is too short to be cut by a mower but a lawn that itself is cut too short can attract moss instead of grass. Feed the lawn with a weed and feed fertiliser or use lawn sand containing a moss killer. Scarify and improve drainage by forking over the lawn. Moss can absorb nitrogen dioxide and  fight against air pollution

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Autumn Leaves Shared with Others

It dawned on me that many tree leaves are shared in one form or another. Mine get blown over the wall on to the road and into neighbors gardens. The ones that are collected and bagged to make leaf mold are shared with worms and micro organisms in the circle of life. Those under hedges do more good than harm.

Municipal trees are planted in public spaces and a careful selection of species can produce wonderful autumn colours and vibrant spring shoots. Young children get an early hands on experience of nature if they collect fallen leaves. A bit of encouragement and sharing of adult knowledge may engender a life times interest.

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Fruit and Veg Airmiles – A Fruity Post

We need a rebellion against the extinction of the greengrocer but in the meantime it is a good time to use your garden productively. Late autumn in a great time to plant some fruit trees and canes. You can also use the cold months to plan and prepare your own vegetable crop production for the next year.

Recommended Crops

  • From the array on this fruit stall I would strongly recommend you increase the number of apples, pears and plums you plan to harvest. Better to have air yards from garden to kitchen than air mile from exotic countries.
  • The next on my wish list would be cane fruit and strawberries. By selecting appropriate varieties you can get good crops over a 4/5 month period and the taste will be fresh and wholesome.
  • I have skirmished with citrus fruit and exotics but have given myself a pass. Greenhouse space is to precious and crop levels are unreliable. I consider a grape vine worth cultivating if you can get the right conditions.
  • This fruit shop in Cardiff also had ‘imported’ sharon fruit, pomellos, lemons, melons, satsumas, pineapples, chinese chestnuts, pomegranates and persimmons. I don’t think I have tasted all those fruit types never mind trying to grow them

 

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The Iceman Cometh

Norwegian Iceman Sculpture Cardiff

As if all the heavy rain has not been bad enough the icy weather is just around the corner. Jack frost will be nipping into your garden this month and may stick around for 5/6 months or so. It is worth revisiting some of the issues and options gardeners face.

Early Preparations

  • Consider your water features including both still and moving. I start by lagging my outside taps and draining hosepipes.
  • Be prepared for frozen bird baths and ponds with means of breaking the ice.
  • I have cleared moss of the paths and hope to reduce icy slips.
  • Check out hessian wrapping and/or horticultural fleece stock. I always remember to buy it when the frost has bitten.

Plant Protection

  • Every gardeners tip says do not walk on frozen grass the stems become brittle and snap.
  • Give tender plants shelter in a greenhouse, cold frame, window ledge or under some cover.
  • Mulch well to protect roots.
  • Sweep snow falls off the leaves and branches to stop them being permanently damaged.
  • Wrap banana plants, tree ferns and exotics in sacking or other frost prevention measures.
  • Some plants, particularly alpines, suffer more damaged from water than frost . So maintain drainage and don’t panic in the frost
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Strulch does well in Pots

Widgeon

Strulch is an organic mulch made from straw with embedded minerals. I made use of a lot of Strulch this spring and it has done a good job in several ways most visibly on the plants grown in pots.

Pot Plants With Strulch

  • Strulch mulch reduces weed growth by up to 95% but as you see a couple of weeds poked through. However, they were easy to hand weed the recalcitrants.
  • In the hot dry spring the pots needed a lot of watering but the mulch  helped retain moisture around plants.
  • Enriching the soil and its structure as it slowly decomposes is not critical to pot plants but there are some benefits. I would have added some straw to my homemade compost if it was available.
  • Even with my thin layer it lasts up to two years saving water and fertiliser but next year I will make the layer a bit thicker.
  • As claimed there was no sign of Slugs and Snails so I will try to use it on my dwarf hostas next spring.
  • The light brown appearance was aesthetically pleasing and seemed neat and tidy.
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